For a very brief instant yesterday, Serena Williams thought she would exit the French Open in the quarter-finals yet again but she quickly banished the notion to go past Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
The world No 1, the first American woman in the last four on the Paris clay since Jennifer Capriati in 2004, came back from the brink and extended her winning streak to 29 matches to continue her run towards a second French Open title. The last four times 2002 champion Williams had reached the last eight at Roland Garros, she had been sent packing, in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2010. Williams, who will face Italian Sara Errani in the semi-finals, would have been lying if she had said she had not thought about her recent record on the Paris clay when she was 2-0 down in the third set against Kuznetsova.
“That was just a brief, brief, brief, like fleeting thought,” said Williams, who was knocked out at this stage by Kuznetsova four years ago when the Russian went on to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup. “And after that it was just, let’s just play this match and let’s just do the best that I can. Even though I was down I was still competing, so I couldn’t necessarily dwell on the fact that I’ve lost so many quarter-final matches here.”
Williams, who has won 15 grand slam titles but only one at Roland Garros, saw off three double break points in the decider and played some beautiful tennis to set up a meeting with fifth seed Errani, who beat Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 7-6 (6). “I did put her to the limit I think today, even without my serve,” said Kuznetsova.
Errani proved her run to last year’s French Open final was no fluke as she flummoxed Radwanska with an array of ferocious forehands, delightful dropshots and luscious lobs.. The Italian secured her first-ever win over a top-five player to book her semi-final place.
Meanwhile, it was announced yesterday that British No 1 Laura Robson will work with Andy Murray’s former coach Miles Maclagan during the grass-court season. Former Great Britain Davis Cup player Maclagan coached Murray to his first grand slam final at the US Open in 2008 but split from the Scot in the summer of 2010.